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Groups demand firm's closure amid poaching surge

24 July 2014, 14:20

Nairobi - Kenyan conservationists have joined their international counterparts to demand that a prominent online retail giant immediately cease sales of elephant ivory products amid the current surge in poaching.

The conservationists, who include Executive Director of Wildlife Direct, Paula Kahumbu, said the internet retail company called Rakuten is stimulating market demand for elephant ivory by facilitating the sale of tens of thousands of ivory products.

“Africa's elephants, and thousands of rangers, both men and women, are not safe from poachers as long as Rakuten is inviting people to buy ivory. We beg Rakuten to be responsible and announce a total ban on advertisements selling ivory,” Kahumbu said.

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kenya's Save the Elephants, concurred.

“We appeal to Rakuten to help protect Africa's elephants by banning all ads offering ivory for sale on its Japanese website. With so many African elephants being killed for their ivory, it is vital to reduce demand for ivory in Japan," he said.

Ofir Drori, director of the Cameroon-based Last Great Ape Organization, said, “Rakuten must take action to ban ivory ads to help protect the forest elephants which are being slaughtered to provide ivory to Japan and China. Continued ivory ads on Rakuten mean a death sentence for our elephants.”

NGOs working internationally and on the ground in Africa have reached out to Rakuten's headquarters in Tokyo and various subsidiaries requesting that it bans ivory ads on all of its subsidiaries' sites.

Rakuten has yet to respond to their appeals.

Up to 50 000 African elephants are poached annually to satisfy the demand for ivory from Asian countries like Japan and China.

More than 65 percent of Central Africa's forest elephants have been wiped out since 2002.

In Tanzania's famous Selous Game Reserve, the elephant population declined 67 percent in just four years.

 – CAJ News

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